Tea? Totally. Part IV.

In Montreal recently I found the brand shown, Hyleys, subtitled “The Aristocratic Tea”.

If tea can be socially graded thus, I would agree. It has a fine floral aroma and taste, quite citrus as the label suggests. This brand, unlike many, offers reasonable detail on the make-up. A side-panel states:

 … [an] exquisite Royal English blend made of select Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings grades, grown in the highlands of Dimbula and Nuwara Eliya of the island of Ceylon.

It is packed in Sri Lanka (the former Ceylon). This taste is closer to what I recall of orange pekoe 40+ years ago. I did ask my mom (again), on my recent visit, what types the household bought, and that my grandmother used.



She said, “Salada or Red Rose”. I asked, “Brooke Bond, perhaps”? She said, “No”. She did add her mother probably made it using loose leaves, which is something I hadn’t thought of earlier, and may be a factor in why I recall her tea being so good.

We drank it on Sundays in her large, second-story flat on Esplanade Street, around the corner from St-Viateur Bagel Bakery. I recall one of four things to go with it: honey cake, jam roly-poly, chocolate cake, or a crunchy strudel. After the bagels.

This Hyleys is very good, more on the floral-fruity vector than I recall of Montreal tea but a good example of that type. If one combined this profile with the Brooke Bond Taj Mahal I mentioned in the last part, that would be very close to the 1960s-’70s orange pekoe I recall in Montreal.

Good information on Hyleys is available in this link, it is a brand of Regency Teas, based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Regency is a relatively new company, established in 1997 but the people who set up the business had long experience in the industry, and it shows in this product.

Regency packs a wide range of black and green teas under the Hyleys banner, plus an herbal range.

Now, from an international point of view, tea, Montreal, and the Flower Power era might suggest to many the poet and songster Leonard Cohen, who grew up in the city. (Never knew the man).

His famous line from Suzanne:

And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China.

I actually can recall the first time I heard that song, in a student’s apartment just east of McGill University in the “student ghetto”.  It did make an impression even though I never really favoured his music, or folk-balladic music in general.

I liked folk when it became rock and roll, i.e., The Byrds, Loving Spoonful, Mamas and Papas, etc.

Still, the song had a certain power, especially if you know the city, but evidently if one doesn’t, as well. Cohen’s tea, from Suzanne, must have been green tea from China. If he had visited his grandmother on weekends, I doubt she served that.

They must have grown up, as I did, with the black tea that was used in East Europe before our people got here. Our family would say, “gloz tey”, a cup of tea, but really a glass of tea.

The Russian Empire must have used glasses, to draw the tea from those samovars we’ve all seen pictures of.

I can’t recall anyone drinking it in a literal glass on Esplanade Street 40 and 50 years ago, but the expression was still used.* As well, many Montreal Jewish homes had a samovar in the house used as decor, now I know why.

There is one in this household, somewhere.

*Some usual cups though (handled) were transparent, made of glass.



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